Cultural fusion – Stage 4 Conceptual & Expressive Piece

“Personal Messages” Totems

My conceptual piece is about visual messages and how best to display these.  I was first drawn to this idea by the work of John Dahlsen and the impact his groupings of vertical poles had on me.   Primary totemsI find them visually stimulating, the messages of waste and re-use very current and the group formations large enough to ensure attention.

I also have a fondness for Australian Aboriginal Totems and Pukumani Poles.  Both have a long history and through these I first realised how long we have used poles and posts to give information, to tell stories, to share self-expression and to reveal our identity and culture.

We express ourselves as nations, clans, groups, organisations and individuals through  many visual concepts based on the idea of vertical poles and posts.  I have developed my project through the idea of road signs, as previously outlined.

The aim of my work is to display a range of poles, covered in painted fabric so they resemble vertical metal posts.  These will have pieces of velcro attached randomly up and down the length of each pole where personal messages can be attached.  The exhibit is designed for participation by all, everyone in the world who has a message to share.  Through social media it is now easy to reach a multitude of people and give basic outlines:

  • Your message must be visual with no words.
  • It should be within a set size range.
  • It should resemble, in some way, a traditional road sign.
  • It can contain a personal, social or cultural message.

Can you imagine walking into a gallery and seeing many, many upright posts with hundreds of pictorial signs attached?  What a wonderful way for every single person to say something, to affect others and to promote their cause or belief.  No matter what nationality a person is or what language they speak every message will be equally understood through their visual impact.  Here are some of mine (now finished):

Road signs multiRoad signs multi 1Road signs multi 2Top row: Left – If you’re going to drink Champagne, buy the best you can afford. Appliqué, hand stitched Colonial knots, machine satin stitch, free-motion ‘bubbles’.  Right – Happy dogs run free.  Support off-leash areas for dogs.  Appliqué, hand-made leash and collar, stumpwork ball.
Middle row: Left – Get Up and Go.  Reverse appliqué, pistil stitch.  Right – Don’t hide in the crowd, have self belief, stand up and be counted.  Appliqué, hand-made dimensional girl.
Bottom row: Left – Whatever the message, say it with flowers.  Painted Vliesofix, Tyvek flowers, Lutradur leaves.  Right – close up of girl.

My storyboard started with a range of contemporary artworks featuring vertical poles/posts or linear works and my own drawing of how I see my exhibit.  Only two poles are drawn but there would be many of differing heights together.

Storyboard source materialI then went on to explore some messages and visual possibilities for each.

Storyboard messages & visualsI’ve made 5 message signs.  I’d like to see the world participate and produce a wonderful international exhibit giving everyone a voice, even if it is just a small one.


About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Assignment 1: Cultural Fusion, Textiles 1: Exploring Ideas and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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